The Passing of Geoff Cornish

Geoff Cornish

Geoff Cornish

I was saddened to hear about the passing of Geoff Cornish today. He was 97. With the exception of Bob Moote, Cornish was the last remaining architect to have worked alongside Canadian golf designer Stanley Thompson. He was also a fine historian who compiled, along with Ron Whitten, the definitive who’s who book on golf course design.

I had the chance to interview Geoff many times, and met him once — at a Stanley Thompson Society event a number of years ago. He was a gentleman, known for taking long walks on golf courses.

Cornish started working for Stanley Thompson as a student while the architect built Capilano in Vancouver. Thompson needed someone to help with the agronomy and Cornish assisted, going to work for Thompson afterwards. He’d later assist in creating Highlands Links before heading to World War II. When he came back he told me he went to Thompson’s office only to find the architect wasn’t using it any longer and it had been taken over by a man Cornish called “a pornographer.”

Much of what I know about Thompson’s process of design I learned from my conversations with Cornish. I spoke with him for a couple of hours on a number of occasions. They are always fascinating and insightful.

As a designer, he had a hand in a number of courses in Canada — including York Downs and Northumberland Links.

Cornish is in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame — as he should be.

The American Society of Golf Course Architects has an obituary here. 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The world has lost a wonderful person. There are many architects working in the business that trained under and or worked with Geoff.

    I met Geoff in 1963 at the University of Massachusets where I was taking a short course and he was one of the instructors and a speaker at our graduation.

    Geoff was an honourary member of the Stanley Thompson Society as well as being a benefactor to them.

  • In less than five months, the Canadian golf world has lost two great people with the passing of Jim Barclay and Geoff Cornish. Both were my friends and of great assistance in helping to build the Stanley Thompson Society. And both were the first Honorary Members of the Society. Geoff, like my parents, was a Winnipegger.
    My mother knew him well and always spoke of Geoff as a kind, honourable man. When we decided to reprint Stanley’s 1923 ‘About Golf Courses’, I asked Geoff to write the foreword. He did more than that, he funded the reprint. In his statement, he wrote: “Stanley Thompson was an inspired Canadian who impacted course architecture forever through his own magnificent creations and his enduring influence on his design descendants. Interestingly, this booklet puts forth a practical side to an artist with a ‘reach for the stars’ philosophy.”
    Dr. Cornish will be greatly missed by all who knew him, read his works, played his courses or had the pleasure of sharing a conversation with him.

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